Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

266                             THE GAY GENIUS

recipe in which he greatly believed and which, according to him, cost
only a penny a dose. The prescriptions are usually made up of a large
number of herbs, some for lowering temperature, some for stopping
perspiration, others for increase of appetite, or for purgative or tonic
effects. It is the belief of Chinese doctors that, when one organ of"
the body is sick, the whole body is sick. The prescriptions are there-
fore directed toward the strengthening of the body as a whole rather^
than toward the cure of any particular organ. One prescription in par-
ticular, the "Divine Powder", contains twenty herbs, including thorny
limebrush, sickle-leaved hare's "ear, water plantain, liquorice, wild
cardamon, "pig's head" (carpesium abrotanoides), autumn root, mag-
nolia officinalis, and acorus calamus. It includes also rnahuang, or
ephedra sinica, which has been proved to be a powerful stimulant to
the production of gastric juice.

Dissatisfied with such piecemeal unorganised aid to sufferers, Su
Tungpo set apart two thousand dollars from government funds arjji
contributed, himself, fifty ounces of gold (about a thousand US.
dollars) to found a public hospital at Chungan Bridge in the heart of
the city. So far as I know, this Anlofang was the first public hospital
in China. In three years' time it took care of a thousand patients, and
the priest in charge of the hospital was rewarded with a purple gown
and a gift of money from the government. Later the hospital was
moved to the lake shore, was renamed Antsifang, and continued to
function after Su Tungpo's days.

But Su Tungpo was most troubled about the water supply for the
residents of Hangchow and the dirt along the canals which ran through
the city. In the time of the Chien kings, a sea wall had been built
along the shore to prevent the tide from coming into the canal and
polluting the city water with salt. This sea wall had fallen into dis-
repair. There were two canals running north and south through the
city directly connected with the Chientang Bay at Zakou. As the water
of the bay, mixed with the river water, was full of silt, the canal beds
required dredging every three to five years. There was no modern
machinery, and the mud taken from the bed of the canal was dumped
on the banks in front of the people's homes. These canals were about
four or five miles long and the dredging was always a cosdy opera-,
tion, besides being a great nuisance to the residents. What was even
worse, the condition of the traffic was such that it took a boat several
days to get out of the city. Boats were pulled by men and oxen,
and the canal scene was usually one of indescribable confusion.

Su Tungpo consulted experts, made a survey of the levels of the
canals, and worked out a plan to prevent the silting and thus clean up
the whok canal region. This was the first of his engineering works in